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Crystal in the Light

July 16, 2010

What’s the difference between Christian Crystal (TM) and Crystal….. (dare I? I do.)….. light?    

– David

 

 

I wonder if Dave knew how big of a question this was for me to try to answer. And how vague really. But I’ll try.

So much of the answer is, “I don’t know, but that’s okay.” Some of the answers are just “Things aren’t the way I was taught.” I haven’t completely figured out the new way, but I know my old way wasn’t right.

Like the stuff they taught me about Heaven and Hell and sex and alcohol and dancing and love and life and sin – and even God. That stuff wasn’t right. I don’t know for sure what is right, but I’m working on it, and eliminating some of the possibilities must be getting me closer to the answer.

Disclaimer: While I hate to be subjective I have to explain one little thing, when I say “not right” I really mean “not right for me.” – Ah, I feel much better now.

So this change, or paradigm shift or enlightenment or whatever the crap you want to call it, has been happening for a long time and I have been trying to ignore it for a long time. Fighting it because it was “lack of faith” or “heresy” or “just spiritual confusion” – whatever the pastor and the rest of the kids in the churchyard were calling it that week.

The thing is, ignoring it and fighting it just made it hurt more. It fought back. Unrest. Dis-ease. Frustration. Sadness. Anger. Alcohol abuse. The arms of a stranger or two – the mouth of a stranger or two. And, other body parts, let’s just be honest. Plus, lots of TV and way too many pancakes.

When the Christian answers weren’t enough I would try again. Rededicate my faith efforts and all that. Read the Bible more, pray more go to the church whenever it was open. But I always wound up back at the place where the pastor’s words (or the prayers and the Bible verses) were just echoing loudly in something vast and empty inside of me.

It just never took me where my inner self (you know that voice, the inner urge that you try to drown out when you don’t know how to answer it) was aching to go. Not because it was wrong per se, but because it couldn’t get me any further than I had been able to go in the past. There was no longer potential for growth. And it all stagnates…and festers…and falls apart.

And then, more pancakes.

And I would wind up crying in the parking lot at church instead of going in week after week after week. And I was still wondering. I knew there was something further and something deeper, but I didn’t know how to get to it. And Christianity wasn’t helping.

There are a lot of things I have had half right for a long time. They were ideas that I recognized the truth of, but then tried to shove into a Christian worldview. (And, I should probably clarify that it was a modern, Midwestern, protestant Christian world view.)

My concept of God was pretty big. A lot of you have heard me say that God is infinite and we are finite so there are an infinite number of finite ways that he can get to us, express Himself to us…express Himself through us.

But all within the bounds of the Bible and Christianity, of course.

Once, while trying to witness to a self-professing Agnostic friend I said “It’s one thing to know that God can’t be completely understood – that’s fine. But, it’s another thing not to try to understand Him. It’s just lazy. If you earnestly look for God and look for truth, you’ll find Him. You’ll find it.”

Of course the part I didn’t say is that the only place to find God and truth was in Christianity.

Even though I hadn’t found much of either within Christianity in a long time. But I was holding out hope. Trying to be “faithful” and trying to cash in on what the pastors were telling me about getting rewarded eventually.

Besides, being right is a reward isn’t it? But if I’m right you have to be wrong. And then I’ll be mad and scared every time I’m confronted with something that suggests you’re right or that I’m wrong. So I have to figure out all the ways that you’re wrong and convince as many people as possible so that I can keep convincing myself that I’m right.

Not exactly the peace that passes all understanding is it? Holy frustrating religion, Batman. (I think a lot of people are this type of religious about politics too, but that’s another topic for another time.)

My concept of sin was getting close to truth when I had the idea that the reason things are considered sins is because they have negative consequences built into them. God called it “sin” and said “no, you can’t do this and that” because He wanted to protect us. To keep us safe from the negative consequences.

“Especially when it comes to pre-marital sex,” the dogma told me while I was crying about having sex with my boyfriend. “Because that is the biggest and most damaging sin – except for maybe homosexuality, because that’s pre-marital and unnatural sex. Heck you’ll never be the same because of it. In fact, you might not be able to fully recover from it.”

“Really? The God in Christianity isn’t big enough to redeem that?” my inner voice asked. “What about that whole forgive anything death on a cross deal? What about making me whole again?”

“You can be forgiven but still scarred irreparably,” the dogma in my head told me.

“Is that why I can’t enjoy sex?”

“Yup, because you didn’t wait until you were married to have it. And you might never like it.” dogma would say very heartlessly and matter-of-factly.

“Shit. Never? There’s no way to make it better? No way to heal?”

“Sorry, them’s the rules. You should have kept it in your pants.”

Yeah, I had variations of that conversation with myself a lot. That’s a big consequence to try to keep us from. So that’s a big sin – right? But what if the only consequence of pre-marital sex is a guilt-free orgasm?

“That’s heresy!” the dogma voice said.

But my inner me was still hoping for it. And, I know now that it was hoping for it because it knew it was real. That’s right. I’ve been having guilt-free sex.

(I can feel all my Christian friends thinking that I’ll suffer the consequences eventually and all of my other friends thinking it’s about damn time. Enough guys.)

In fact, I would go so far as to say that I don’t think premarital sex is a sin. I might even say that I don’t believe in sin. I can’t even stomach that word currently. In fact, I balk at all of the jargon associated with Christianity right now. Maybe I’m just burnt out on Christianity.

I do still believe in consequences. In fact I think that a lot of the things that the Christian world has declared sin are really just powerful. Stuff like sex. And powerful things can be incredibly creative and incredibly destructive. I just don’t think that the only sacred and profound way to have sex is within marriage, and I don’t think that all sex within marriage is sacred and profound.

But in order to avoid the potential destruction of these powerful things Christianity (and other groups) has gotten rid of the potential for creation and beauty as well.

Oh…I’m tired. That’s a lot of stuff. Maybe I am ready to talk about this stuff. But, maybe more specific questions would be better from now on. My brain hurts. Please feel free to ask.

Now for a vague answer to Dave’s vague-ish question: I guess the biggest difference between Chrystal Christian and Crystal Light is that Crystal Light is happier – and finally satisfied. Yeah, satisfied with the search. Satisfied with more questions and fewer answers. Satisfied with going further and getting deeper.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. jennifer permalink
    July 16, 2010 9:22 pm

    hi. 🙂 you dont know me. and i have no idea who you are. i saw something about you on facebook and the thing about -and a sexy body- made me laugh. so i checked out your blog thing. and honestly. you kinda rock. that may sound odd coming from a random 16 year old stranger but. there you go. keep posting. 🙂

    Like

    • July 17, 2010 9:46 am

      Thanks Jenny! I intend to keep posting. Will you keep reading? I’m working on a book to — if you keep reading my blog and telling me what you like about it (and what you don’t like) you’ll be helping me with my book — and I could use the help!

      Like

  2. OldSchool permalink
    July 18, 2010 7:57 pm

    “The unwise man, lacking understanding,
    Behaves as if he were his own worst enemy,
    Committing evil deeds
    That produce bitter fruit.”

    “Until he feels the effect,
    The fool rejoices in his evil deed.
    When the action reaches fruition,
    The fool harvests nothing but grief.”

    “The streams of craving flow everywhere.
    The creeper of craving grows wild,
    Through the six sense doors.
    Being aware of the strangling vine,
    Cut it off at the root through insight.”

    -Buddha

    Like

    • July 19, 2010 8:33 am

      Daniel, Thank you for reading and for commenting. However, I’m not sure how to take this quote. Are you suggesting that I’m an “unwise man,” or congratulating me for gaining some wisdom? If you want to tell me something you can use your own words. And speaking in modern English will help me understand you better as well.

      Again, thanks for reading and for commenting. I hope you keep reading, and I hope you enjoy it!

      Like

  3. OldSchool permalink
    July 19, 2010 4:46 pm

    hmm. Well, o.k., but I don’t think you’ll like my own words.
    Let’s face it, Crystal, you weren’t really acting like a Christian for much of the time you were professing to be a Christ-follower. Drunkenness, Gossip, Slander, Gluttony, Lust and Pride were your usual schtick. Of course you were unhappy, God cannot be mocked – you reap what you sow. It says to seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, THEN all things will be added.

    Righteousness.

    When I met you (the second time, and I was no better), you weren’t seeking after righteousness. You were seeking after the perfect boyfriend – and for unfathomable reasons felt finding the “right guy” would solve everything wrong with your life.

    Again, this may come off as the pot calling the kettle black, but having faith is supposed to be challenging. Exhibiting self-control is supposed to be a little difficult. God wants to be sought after. Granted, He does most of the work, but we need to put in some serious effort. We need to avoid intentional wrongdoing and honestly seek to make the world after God’s heart. Not for ourselves but out of our love for Him and for others. Who cares about Christian dogman, don’t you love God?

    Continuing down a road of complete selfishness and calling it your own enlightenment will lead you to nothing but misery. Trust me, I know. I’ve walked down that road. I’ve been rescued from that road.

    So what I guess I’m saying is be careful. Turn back to the God who loves you more than anyone and let him transform the inner workings of your heart. Seek His face and His righteousness first, THEN those other desires of your heart will see a blessing (and often in an unusual way.)

    I wouldn’t have broken my long silence except I was troubled by your recent posts and feel at least partially responsible for this broad and easy path you are travelling along.

    Like

    • July 20, 2010 11:45 am

      Wow, Daniel, first of all, you aren’t responsible for me in any way. And you never were. You are not my father-figure or my spiritual leader. And you never were. I have my own mind and I will make it up. I will come to the truth in all of this just fine.

      It is pretty clear from this post that you never knew me very well (which makes me sad and also makes me feel a little foolish considering the nature of our past relationship) and that you have spent a lot of time judging me — either while we were acquainted or since then. And I must say that you certainly don’t know me at all right now based on a few blog postings. You have no idea what is going on in my life or where I really am spiritually.

      Although I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, most of this post seems misguided and purposefully hurtful, and therefore unkind. The equivalent of name-calling in public is not something I appreciate. The rest of this conversation is probably best had in private considering it’s personal nature and the amount of venom and confusion involved. If you really are concerned for me you can e-mail me.

      Like

      • OldSchool permalink
        July 20, 2010 6:24 pm

        Hi Crystal,
        Thanks for your response. You’re right, I am in no way responsible for you nor do I have any reason to believe anything I say will sway your opinion in any way.
        My only claim is to be another brother with a long-time (and sometimes rocky) relationship with Jesus. As Christians, we are to admonish one another in love. I consider you a sister – for what it’s worth.
        There’s nothing I can say or do that will instantaneously produce change in your heart or attitude. I can only plant seeds. You are growing a garden. Be wary of the seeds you plant that flower beautifully at first but end up overrunning the true and lasting fruits.

        take care,
        Daniel

        Like

        • July 20, 2010 7:07 pm

          Your “admonishment” was hardly loving. And I don’t want your seeds anymore — nor do I want you to condescendingly attempt to produce anything in me. I’m not a project for you to complete and I am not your student. If you need a project, I’m sure you have numerous uncompleted things littering your files, workbench and computer desktop. If you want a student, become a teacher. You’ll get a new crop of them every year or semester.

          You’re being cruel. What’s worse, you don’t seem to realize what you’re doing when you’re being cruel.

          I welcome your thoughts to a point — even as comments on my blog. But you have officially lost any latitude when it comes to assessing and criticizing me. It is clear to me that when you look at me you only see what you want to see — what you’ve decided is there — and I’m loathe to think very hard about the gnarled picture of me you have created.

          I can’t imagine why you want to see me as something so ugly and helpless. Maybe you’re trying to make yourself feel better about breaking up with me. Maybe you’re trying to make yourself feel better about the lonely, ascetic path you have chosen.

          The truth is. I’m happier now than I have been in years. And this has been happening for a long time. Since before you and I dated.

          I am thankful for our relationship on many levels. As a result of it I have become open to a lot of beautiful things. It seems you have gone the opposite direction. I hope the path you are on and the path that you have chosen brings you great fulfillment and joy. Much like my path is bringing to me. Furthermore, if this path brings me back to practicing only Christianity and I find myself in need of Christian advisors, I have many to chose from. Pastor Nate and Pastor Steve have already offered their time. Not to mention the myriad of Christian friends who care about me and understand me much more deeply than you.

          Again, I welcome you comments and perspectives on life. But I’d appreciate it if, in the future, they would be about your life, rather than mine.

          Like

  4. Enlightened Wes permalink
    July 20, 2010 2:30 pm

    “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”, “Forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us.”

    What if ‘god’ gave us many messengers, such as Jesus and the Buddha? Each to teach the lessons of god to the children of this world, but in ways suited for their cultural differences and languages. Are we not all individual, with individual free will, as gifted us by god?

    Perhaps the goal of god was to unite all the children with simple and basic truths about the universe, and perhaps humans have failed to learn as they continue to fight over who’s teacher is correct?

    Buddha said believe no teacher if what they teach contradicts what you know in your heart to be morally true, even if that teacher is the Buddha.

    If the will of god is for us to worship only god and no other being or thing, then the lessons of Buddha fall perfectly in line for Buddha also taught not to worship any person or thing as well, and to look for the answers within yourself. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within yourself. Coincidence?

    Repent – To make a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one’s sins.

    To find heaven one must first ask for forgiveness and repent as said by many Christians. To reach enlightenment one must forgive oneself for past ‘sins’ and make the conscious choice to take a different path ‘now’. The feeling of regret is our punishment to ourselves; the solution is to forgive thyself.

    Okay Okay…. So what’s my point?

    The only true path to ‘God’ is in your heart, not your head; we are all different and we all choose different paths, and no person knows what path is right for you, except you and god. My advice, follow your own path and find the real truths passed to us by our teachers. Read your bible again before you cast it away, but this time read it for yourself and discover what it means to you. The lessons taught are not bad; it’s the interpretations of others pushed onto you that cloud the mind and create doubt and confusion.

    Buddha taught to live in balance; give for all that you take and achieve part of that balance. Karma says that for balance to exist the universe will adjust reactivity to our actions. IF you take to much, the universe will take back. If you give to little, the universe will ask for more. If you give your share, you will receive your share, and reach happiness. If you give to much, you will loose yourself to the universe.

    So how do you know what is the right balance? You will know when at the end of the day, everything feels okay.

    Matthew 7:12 – Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

    Like

  5. Jace permalink
    July 23, 2010 6:10 pm

    Come to my play!!! I dig your blog!!!

    Like

  6. July 26, 2010 4:30 pm

    Crystal,

    Might I venture one observation and one question?

    Your loss of faith seems mostly due to hitting puberty and being around people who are forever adolescent (I’m looking at you old school). That’s my observation.

    My question has to do with your search for God. How do you intend to go about it? My general impression of people who claim to be seeking God is, “I don’t want to believe in anything particular anymore.” and this seems to gain acceptance because it is very chic to be a searcher. This popular “seeker” mindset belittles those who actually seek the knowledge of God. So I want to know, are you actually seeking God? How do you plan on doing so?

    If you’ll forgive me the indulgence I will end with a quote from a late brilliant professor:

    “It’s worthwhile asking your students what they esteem these days; they all say they esteem something. In general you’ll find they esteem ‘being open,’ which is to say, ‘having no esteem.’ They esteem ‘Open People’ or they esteem certain kinds of very abstract notions.. People who can make no real claim on their lives or actions. Loving Ghandi would be a perfect example of abstract moralism – ‘peace and absolute freedom to do what we want.'”
    – Allan Bloom

    I hope you are searching persistently for the nature of things. In the meantime, I’ll be reading your blog.

    – Cole

    Like

    • July 26, 2010 5:05 pm

      Ha ha! I am far past puberty, Cole. And, I certainly welcome observations and questions, especially from someone as intelligent and educated as you obviously are.

      I should say I’m not searching for God. I see God in so many things that to say “I am looking at Him” is far more appropriate than to say “I am looking for Him.” Truth, on the other hand, about the nature of God beyond what I have felt and seen for myself, is something I am looking for.

      As a journalist (or I should probably say former journalist) I am very interested in learning form others how they experience God. Sometimes I find things in the experiences of others that I can relate to and sometimes what I find is more evidence of an infinity that a finite being, like I am, can’t fully comprehend. It occurs to me, after reading your description of your intellectual pursuits, that you experience God in a very cerebral way.

      Or, do I just think that because your intellect was the focus of the essay?

      It might be easier for me to answer your question more fully if you were to let me know how you search for God.

      As far as “the search” is concerned I guarantee that I am not a searcher because it is chic. Quite the contrary. I resisted searching outside of Christianity for a long time. I endeavored to assuage my doubts in many ways over the past 7 years. I have only recently outed myself and just being honest about it was terrifying. I used to be a pastor and I have many friends who are pastors. And I expected all of them to respond as Old School did.

      I’m happy to say the majority of my acquaintances were far more gracious.

      I must also admit to finding God when I’m not looking, but rather thinking and feeling. I have no question whether God exists. What I’m searching for are ways to experience the divine as fully as possible. I could go on. But I’d rather have your answer before I do. Otherwise, I might as well write another blog about it.

      Like

  7. August 29, 2010 1:43 am

    Wow. I was just going to say I thought this was a really great, heartfelt, and powerful post. But on my way down here was reading through the comments and am now just a bit shocked at the responses you got there. They seem extreme to me as reactions to what looks like a really healthy introspective process you’re going through.

    I gather this is the religious background you are coming from, so I hope not all the people in your life are throwing these guilt trips at you and you are getting some support in your search.

    For whatever it may be worth – me being a total stranger and all – you seem to me to be on a really positive path spiritually. I also think that a) any religion worth its salt will be able to stand up to questioning, b) the people who get so offended by your search seem awfully defensive for being so sure they’re in the right, and c) God probably appreciates being found and loved via thoughtful consideration rather than blind faith anyhow.

    Like

    • August 29, 2010 10:26 am

      Thanks for the support Precious One! After reading the comments I imagine you can understand why it took me a while to get up the nerve to write about this on my blog. 🙂

      Like

  8. David C permalink
    August 8, 2015 1:46 pm

    Hey, could you revisit this?

    I ask, because you’re one of the few people I’ve met—if the only, that’s made a solid transition from a person who wanted to work for “Focus on the Family” to someone who maintains religion, but still posts Buddhist quotes on her facebook wall.

    Generally there’s only a few different colors I see in spirituality, and it’s incredibly boring. You seem to carry a couple more than your average bear.

    Like

  9. David C permalink
    August 8, 2015 1:46 pm

    (or maintains a sense of spirituality)

    Like

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